Two members serving on the board overseeing University of Wisconsin campuses, along with 13 others, are caught in legal limbo, as Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican lawmakers remain locked in a political battle over recent appointments to public boards.
The University of Wisconsin System's board president John Robert Behling sided on Monday with Republicans. He encouraged the two most recently appointed UW System Board of Regents members to sit with other Regents at Thursday's meeting on UW-Madison's campus.
"I believe the Court’s stay is in effect," Behling said in a statement. "We look forward to clarity from the Court on this situation."
Eighty-two people were nominated by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker and confirmed by the state Senate to public boards during a lame-duck session that Dane County judge Richard Niess ruled last week was invalid.
Evers rescinded all 82 appointments shortly after the ruling, but a state appeals court granted Republican lawmakers' request to temporarily suspend Niess' order. Evers then re-appointed all but 15 of Walker's picks last Thursday, including Scott Beightol and student Regent Torrey Tiedeman.
Republican lawmakers say the appellate court order means all 82 Walker appointees are now back in their jobs.
In response to Behling, Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said, “Once again, there is confusion stemming from the Republicans’ unconstitutional attempt to override the will of the people.”
Beightol said the law is clear in that he is a member of the board because the appeals court issued a stay, a court order preserving the existing state of affairs. The status quo, he said, is that he is a member on the Board of Regents.
"I'm not going to ignore the court, and the court said there's a stay in place," Beightol said. "It's unfortunate for us caught in the middle."
The UW System's website removed Beightol and Tiedeman's names and biographies from the webpage listing the board's members. Asked about the change Monday, UW System spokesman Mark Pitsch said the names were removed after Niess’ decision.
Pitsch said the website was changed again, adding back Beightol and Tiedeman's names, to reflect the appeals court decision.
Tiedeman was not immediately available to comment Monday.
Beightol said he still has access to his UW System email address and his day-to-day work on the board hasn't drastically changed despite the flurry of legal activity last week.
"This is a volunteer job, but I'm very committed to the UW System," he said.